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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: Google's taking over the world, and that's not good

  • Isn’t it funny, and disturbing, how the corporate branders – through sheer force of relentless promotion – win?



    They offer us goods and services that we objectively rate on quality, price, availability and dependability.

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  • Isn’t it funny, and disturbing, how the corporate branders – through sheer force of relentless promotion – win?
    They offer us goods and services that we objectively rate on quality, price, availability and dependability.
    No, we don’t. We’re as bound to irrational habits as the day Og left the cave.
    They have us settling on favorites and, in the process, they creep into our identities. It’s Coke, not Pepsi, and don’t even try to change my mind. I like Cabela’s, probably too much. Take away my MacIntosh clone, and I would go fetal.
    The model for the modern American economy, and We the Consumer, is NASCAR. Let’s dispense with cities and teams – quaint notions such as Kansas City Chiefs – and just cut to specific players, such as Carl Edwards, playing directly for corporations. Carl Edwards drives the Subway car, and it’s really, really yellow.
    (You didn’t think I knew that. You didn’t think I knew anything about NASCAR. You’re 99 percent right. I’m not a NASCAR guy, and the denial of that corporate connection becomes as much a part of our identity as the embrace of another. But if one lives and breathes, one unavoidably picks up on a few things. Mr. Edwards seems like a nice gentleman.)
    So I’ve gone along as Google has set about to take over the world. Although I’m a stickler for good grammar, syntax and what I happen to interpret as proper English, I’ve acquiesced to “Google” as a verb – a capitalized one at that. Why fight it?
    How could a company whose informal motto is “Don’t be evil” be all bad? Yeah, I’m more or less a Google guy, assuming they would be benevolent rulers.
    But the love is fading.
    Turns out Google has been doing all kinds of evil. The company just this week settled with 38 states, including ours, for its serial drive-by data scooping. As part of its Street View mapping project, it did a little more than drive around taking pictures of houses and offices on as many streets and avenues as it could get to.
    On the whole planet.
    If your stuff – your data – was unencrypted, Google was snarfing up email information, passwords, even financial and medical information. First it denied doing that. Not so. Then it blamed the ever-popular rogue employee, but that didn’t wash. Then it said it destroyed the information, but that turned out to be not entirely true. Heck, even our own slow-footed federal government got around to fining the company $25,000 for obstructing its investigation.
    Now the states are dinging Google for $7 million, a lot of money to you and me but roughly what Google makes between the morning coffee break and lunch. Google, as these things go, is not obliged by the states to admit any actual wrongdoing, and we are left with the hopeful notion that it will mend its ways. The company says it tries “to get privacy right,” despite this and other episodes.
    Page 2 of 2 - So, yeah, the bloom is off the rose. Google is just another suspect company. So much for brand loyalty.
    Should we worry about our privacy? Darn right. About government trampling on that privacy? Yes, we should be vigilant, but the real threats to our privacy come from the banks, the Googles and the other private companies that act as if they are accountable to no one.
    Just imagine what happens when Google gets its hands on a few drones.
    Reach Jeff Fox at jeff.fox@examiner.net or 816-350-6313. Follow him in Twitter @FoxEJC.

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